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Fresh Central initiative on Brahmaputra navigation
Spl Correspondent
 NEW DELHI, March 9 - The Centre has confirmed that fresh initiative has been taken to increase navigability of the Brahmaputra River and reduce flood and erosion. The concept of dredging of Brahmaputra River and Construction of ‘Brahmaputra Express Highway’ on both banks has been initiated by the Government of Assam and the preliminary survey has been started from January 24.

Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Dr Sanjeev Kumar Balyan said this in reply to a Lok Sabha question by Ramen Deka.

About potential of power, as per reassessment studies of hydro-electric potential carried out by the Central Electricity Authority during 1978-87, the hydro power potential of Brahmaputra Basin in terms of installed capacity (IC) is estimated at 66,065 MW, out of which 65,400 MW of potential consists of hydroelectric schemes having IC above 25 MW.

Regarding potential of irrigation, no flow irrigation scheme on the main stem of the river in the valley itself appears economically feasible. Water could, however, be lifted from the river to irrigate some riparian lands. In the Master Plan of Brahmaputra, the ultimate irrigation potential from surface water in Assam has been assessed at 19,70,000 ha and groundwater is estimated at 7,00,000 ha.

In the northeastern region, the Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga (MSTG) link has been proposed under the Himalayan Component of National Perspective Plan (NPP) for Inter Basin Water Transfer envisaging diversion of about 43,000 MCM of surplus waters of Manas and Sankosh rivers (Brahmaputra basin) with supplementation from the intermediate major streams, namely Aie, Raidak, Torsa and Jaldhaka, for the benefit of augmenting the flow of Ganga at Farakka.

The pre-feasibility report (PFR) of this link has been prepared in 1996. As per the PFR, this link comprises two dams, one each on rivers Manas and Sankosh inside Bhutan territory, and a gravity flow canal for diverting substantial quantum of water to river Ganga upstream of Farakka barrage. The link canal will provide navigation benefit between Manas and Mahananda barrage. This link canal envisages providing assured irrigation facilities to cultivable command area of about 6.54 lakh ha in the States of Assam, West Bengal and Bihar utilising 4,027 MCM of water. For preparation of feasibility report, the survey and investigation work of Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga link for forest free alignment has been completed, Dr Baliyan said.

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